Let me start off this review on the fact that its been over a week since I’ve seen Superman Vs The Elite at WonderCon 2012. The issues of traveling and convention going have never been a issue until now. Mostly because I’ve never taken a long trip and then did a full size con literally 20 hours after I get back into town for a three day weekend. So the last week has been getting back to the day job and desperately trying to catch up on sleep. Now I’ll you this, I’ve had a week to really sit and think about Superman Vs The Elite. How my initial reactions are different now, and where it stacks up against DC’s other direct to video titles.
The short of it: Superman Vs The Elite might possibly be one of best of the DTV films that Warner Premier has done yet.
And I say that with no ego.
When I first saw the early images for SVTE, I was, curious to say the least. Superman, with that bold jaw. The Elite, who looked like they came out of the Men In Black TV series. I was skeptical. Especially coming off of Justice League Doom, which I had just watched two weeks prior. Doom was a fine entry, but it’s visual looks were grand. Sitting in that ballroom on Friday night, my opinion was swayed greatly on Superman vs. The Elite.
Superman vs The Elite might be an odd story to adapt for a film. I wouldn’t say that it’s a “classic” Superman story by any means. But once the film ended, I saw why What’s Wrong with Truth Justice and the American Way was chosen to be adapted. This is the quintessential modern Superman tale. When Superman is on his own, not backed up by The Justice League. Not having Batman to talk to. Just himself and Lois, and Metropolis and the world feeling some what safe under what is essentially his godhood looming over them. Knowing full well that he can crush them at any second, but he won’t. Because he’s nothing more than a big boy scout that can fly and shoot heat beams out of his eyes.
No one ever bothers to question his methods.
Until the Elite show up.
Many superhero’s never try to cross the line of judge, jury and executioner. Doing so, makes you no better than the villains in many of their minds. Yet, the question does arise: If supervillains keep escaping and killing, then stopped, brought back in, only to have the cycle begin anew- why not put these dogs down? Jason Todd brought this up in Under The Red Hood when he was confronting Batman on not killing the Joker after the Joker had beaten and killed Todd when he was Robin. After all, Batman has had chance after chance. Yet for every time he doesn’t kill the Joker, the Joker fills another graveyard. Put the dog down before he bites again. That’s where the Elite come in.
The Elite- A group of meta humans lead by Manchester Black. They have no intentions of being the bad guy. Their intentions are good in the greater scheme of things. Yet they realize that they have great power, and that they can do something about it. While they idolize Superman, they know that just beating up the villain of the week isn’t going to make things right in the world. So they start using their powers to lay down the law, to make the world “safe” for everyone who is “good”. Appointing themselves the police of the world is something Superman never intends to be. And when the world starts turning on him for not being one, his character is tested like never before. Superman might be able to stop a meteor from falling to Earth, but he’s no match for the opinions of thousands.
This is the driving crux of Superman vs The Elite, and it’s what makes this film so damn good. For the amount of action that is featured in this film (and there’s a lot), the story is the most personal to date. As I’ve compared to earlier, this is the Superman equivalent of Under The Red Hood, and by god does it make it a fantastic watch.
George Newbern returning as the voice of Superman is a prime choice for this story. He’s not Tim Daly, but like Daly, he has the stern, yet friendly tone of what is the character of Superman. It’s why he did Justice League for four seasons. His take on Superman in this film is one of frustration as the world he protects stops caring for him as the new young punks gain the favor that he once held. His foil in Manchester Black (voiced by Robin Atkin Downes) is the perfect anti thesis to Superman. Powerful, yet raised in an environment that is the exact opposite of the Kent farm. While he has no want for world domination, his actions might as well be that of a villain. And when the two finally clash, it’s a sight to behold
Michael Chang, who has directed episodes of Teen Titans, Young Justice and The Jackie Chan Adventures proves to be as talented an animation director as Warner Premiere heavy hitter Lauren Montgomery. Not only does the character design work well in the film once you see it moving, but the film looks fantastic. Not to spoil much, but the talents of everyone involved show up in peak form during the films climax when Superman shows what kind of man he can be.
The only complaint I have with the film is the voice acting of Pauley Perrette as Lois Lane. Something about her raspy voice just didn’t sit well with me as Lois. In Vs. The Elite, I guess the aim with Lois was to make her a far more sassy and unstoppable she reporter than she’s been portrayed as at times in the comics. I can see why Perrette was cast for this Lois, but in the end she same off as more of a distraction than anything else.
Sadly, the worst thing about Superman Vs The Elite is that I have to wait till April to watch it again. In nearly back to back showings with Justice League Doom and this, I’d end up taking Elite over Doom. I felt it was that good. I can see it on loop with Under the Red Hood and Green Lantern First Flight for multiple viewings. Superman Vs The Elite is that damn good of a film, and turned out to be one of the highlights of WonderCon 2012.
Now, let’s see what they can do with The Dark Knight Returns shall we.